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lir'ilimii'iPiVifiTiy PUBLIC LIBRARY 

3 1833 01772 5547 








Reprinted with the 

special permission 

of the 

Allen County - Fort Wayne 

Historical Society 

Public Library of 

Fort Wayne and Allen County 



In 1959 the Allen County- Fort Wayne Histori- 
car Society published THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN 
CHURCH IN FORT WAYNE. The interest evidenced 
in its initial history of a religious body encouraged 
the Society to essay the history of another denomina- 
tion which exerted considerable influence on the Sum- 
mit City's political, business, industrial, and social 

The present publication attempts to delineate 
in broad outlines the story of the Roman Catholic 
Church in this region. Emphasis has been placed on 
the growth of early parishes in Fort Wayne; parishes 
in the diocese outside the city have received scant at- 
tention or have been excluded. No attempt has been 
made to extend the history beyond the close of the 
nineteenth century. 

The diocesan histories of Bishop Herman J. 
Alerding and Archbishop John F. Noll provided the 
basis for this paper. Excerpts from the Public Li- 
brary files of Fort Wajme newspapers supplied con- 
siderable local material. Other sources are listed in 
the bibliography. Local history abounds in variant 
and contradictory spellings of personal and place 
names; preference has been given to the best authori- 

The Society gratefully acknowledges the loan 
of photographs by the Catholic clergy and the Library 
of the University of Notre Dame for the illustrations. 
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR supplied the Fort Wayne dioc- 
esan crest on the cover. The Publications Committee, 

directed by Editor Alene Godfrey, assembled and 
organized the materials, and verified facts, names, 
and dates. 

The Allen County -Fort Wayne Historical So- 
ciety presents this sketch of the Diocese of Fort 
Wayne with the hope that it will prove entertaining 
and informative to members and the general public. 

Fred J. Reynolds 

Publications Chairman 

Allen County -Fort Wayne Historical Society 


Beginnings of the Catholic Church in Canada. ... 1 

Fathers Allouez, Marquette, and Dablon 2 

The Catholic Church at Post Miami, Fort 

Ouiatenon, and Post Vincennes 4 

Suppression of the Jesuits 5 

The French and Indian War and its 

Aftermath 6 

Father Gibault's Advent to the West 8 

The Quebec Act and the Revolution 9 

Father Gibault, George Rogers Clark, and 

the Northwest 10 

The La Balme Massacre 13 

The Catholic Church in Maryland 13 

The Carrolls of Maryland 14 

The Diocese of Baltimore 15 

Bishop Carroll sends Missionaries to 

the West 16 

The Diocese of Bardstown 20 

Father Badin returns to the 

American Missions 22 

Father Badin in Fort Wayne 24 

Bishop Brute and the Diocese of Vincennes .... 28 

Bishop De La Hailandiere 34 

Reverend Julian Benoit 36 

Father Benoit and the Miami Indians 38 

St. Mary's Church 39 

The New Diocese of Fort Wa3nie and 

Bishop Luers 40 

The Building of the Cathedral 42 

Father Benoit' s Travels and Honors 47 

Bishop Luers promotes Education 48 

Early Religious Communities in Fort Wa3me ... 48 

St. Paul's Church 50 

Accession of Bishop Dwenger 52 

St. Peter's Church 54 

Bishop Dwenger fosters Education 59 

The Destruction and Rebuilding of 

St. Mary's Church 61 

Reverend John H . Oechtering 65 

St. Patrick's Church and School 65 

Reverend Joseph F . Delaney 68 

Death of Bishop Dwenger and Accession of 

Bishop Rademacher 68 

Conclusion 71 

Notes 73 

Bibliography 75 



The Catholic faith was planted in Canada by 
explorers from France. Thomas Aubert (1508), Gio- 
vanni da Verrazano (1524), and Jacques Cartier (1534) 
discovered the vast region early in the sixteenth cen- 
tury. On his second voyage, Cartier penetrated the 
estuary of the St. Lawrence (August 10, 1535), and 
took possession of the country in the name of King 
Francis I. The period from 1542 to 1608 (Cartier to 
Champlain) saw a few attempts at colonial settlement 
in Acadia which finally reached fruition in 1605 in the 
founding of Port Royal. 

The first missionaries, Jesuits and secular 
priests, accompanied the explorers and settlers. 
Champlain first came to Canada in 1603; on his return 
to New France in 1608 he founded the town of Quebec 
and settled there. In 1615 he invited the Recollect 
fathers from France, who became the first apostles 
to the Indians and inaugurated missions in the interior 
of Canada during the seventeenth century. For ten 
years they traveled, preached, started schools for 
Indian children, and called new recruits to their as- 
sistance. The Recollects sought and gained the aid of 
the Jesuits in 1625; however, when Quebec and the 
colony fell to the English in 1629, the missionaries of 
both orders were obliged to return to France. By the 
Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye England returned Can- 
ada to France and, at the request of Cardinal Riche- 
lieu, the Jesuits again took up their missionary duties. 
Father Paul Lejeune established a college in Quebec 

(1635), which later sent forth missionaries. Hospi- 
taller sisters arrived to organize a hospital, and the 
Ursulines opened a school for girls. In 1657 the first 
four Sulpicians arrived. 

The year 1659 marks the commencement of 
the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Canada. Alexander VII 
named Monseigneur Francois de Laval -Montmorency 
apostolic vicar of New France with the title of bishop 
of Petraea. The prelate's first report to the Holy See 
in 1660 listed twenty-six priests, including sixteen 
Jesuits; he enumerated eight churches or chapels in 
Quebec and environs. As yet the community was un- 
able to provide any revenue for the bishop or income 
for the churches . There was neither a cathedral nor 
a residence for the apostolic vicar. Two orders of 
nuns, the Ursulines and the Congregation of Notre 
Dame, provided elementary education for girls. In 
1663 Louis XIV named Quebec the capital of New 
France, and in 1674 Quebec was created a bishopric 
by Clement X. The jurisdiction of the new see ex- 
tended over all New France. Monseigneur Laval ef- 
ficiently organized his see, struggled with the royal 
governors to maintain the rights of the Church, and 
attempted to extirpate the liquor traffic. 


In 1667 Father Claude Jean Allouez, and Father 
Jacques Marquette, French Jesuit missionaries, jour- 
neyed from Quebec to the West. They reached the 
villages of the Illinois Indians by way of the Chicago 
and the Des Plaines rivers. The Illinois, an impor- 
tant group of the Algonquian Confederacy, numbered 
about eight thousand and occupied much of the region 

bordering on Lake Michigan. Fathers Alloaez and 
Marquette held missions on the west and north shores 
of Lake Michigan, traveling from the present-day 
Chicago area to the Green Bay and on to Sault Sainte 
Marie. A year or two later Allouez and Marquette 
joined Father Claude Dablon on Lake Superior and 
found rich copper mines. Dablon reported the discov- 
ery when he returned to Quebec. In 1670 he became 
superior-general of all Canadian missions. He then 
commissioned Marquette to undertake the expedition 
which resulted in the discovery of the upper reaches 
of the Mississippi. He edited and published Mar- 
quette's letters and charts after the latter*s death. 

During this period La Salle (Rene Robert Cav- 
elier), accompanied by the Recollects who sought In- 
dian converts, explored the area along the St. Joseph 
River of Lake Michigan. While La Salle was in that 
part of the Illinois country. Father Allouez kept aloof; 
but after La Salle had returned to France, Henry de 
Tonty, La Salle's lieutenant, welcomed Father Allouez 
at the settlement on the St. Joseph River where Father 
Dablon had assigned him. Father Allouez subsequently 
founded a mission near what is today St. Joseph, Mich- 
igan. The wandering Miami and Potawatomi gathered 
there for council, and the priest ministered to them 
and to the Mascouten for thirty-two years. Father 
Allouez traveled over a wider region than any French 
missionary of his day, preached to twenty different 
tribes, and baptized ten thousand neophytes. At times 
he had to restrain the Indians from adoring him as a 
diety; at other times they were about to sacrifice him 
to their Manito. Monseigneur Laval, bishop of Que- 
bec, appointed Father Allouez to the office of vicar- 
general; he was the first priest to hold that position in 
New France. 

On October 1, 1686, title to a tract of land on 
the St. Joseph River of Lake Michigan was granted for 

a Catholic mission. Selecting a site not far from the 
mouth of the river, Father Allouez built a modest 
chapel and mission house where he resided for some 
time. Father Claude Allouez died August 27, 1689, 
and was buried near Niles, Michigan. Fathers Ave- 
neau, Gravier, and Chardon continued the St. Joseph 
mission until hostility between the French and the 
Miami interrupted their labors. 


According to Indian tradition, a priest from 
the St. Joseph mission visited the Miami village, Ke- 
kionga, as early as 1676. Authorities differ as to the 
date of the building of the first French fortification on 
the site of present-day Fort Wayne. About the begin- 
ning of the eighteenth century, the elder Sieur de Vin- 
cennes, directed by Frontenac, governor-general of 
Canada, rebuilt and strengthened the first French fort 
(Post Miami) on the St. Mary's River. (The site has 
been established at the west end of Superior Street 
and the north end of the Van Buren Street Bridge.) He 
selected the spot where a Catholic priest presumably 
first said Mass in 1676. The Indians destroyed this 
fort in 1747. In 1719 Fort Ouiatenon was built among 
the Ouiatenon or Wea, another Miami tribe, on the 
east side of the Wabash four miles south of the pres- 
ent city of Lafayette. Father Mermet ministered to 
the Ouiatenon, the Mascoutin, and the French settlers 
at this little Western outpost. In 1732, the younger 
Sieur de Vincennes succeeded his father among the 
Miami and established Post Vincennes. Long active 
in the West, this intrepid soldier died in a campaign 
against the Chickasaw in 1736. 

Among the little communities of Catholics in 
the West, the parish registers and lists of parishion- 
ers who made their annual Easter duties indicated 
more or less regular performance of religious obli- 
gations among a majority of the French settlers. The 
colonists married young. Jovial, lighthearted, and 
daring, the men spent more time hunting, trapping, 
and trading with the Indians than in patient tilling of 
the soil. The little communities had no criminal rec- 
ords, no prisons, no executions, and few deaths by 
violence. Each little settlement had its notary, and 
he or another literate settler, read Mass prayers 
(when no priest was present) and catechized the chil- 

Some eighty or ninety families lived at Post 
Vincennes, fourteen at Fort Ouiatenon, and nine or 
ten at Post Miami. The Catholics erected a chapel 
and dedicated it to St. Francis Xavier at Vincennes. 
Chapels may also have beenbuilt at Forts Miami (Fort 
Wayne) and at Ouiatenon (Lafayette). 

On July 22, 1741, a child born at Fort Ouiate- 
non was baptized Anthony Foucher. He was the first 
native of the Wabash Valley to complete his studies 
for the priesthood. Ordained by Joseph Olivier Briand, 
bishop of Quebec, on October 30, 1774, Anthony later 
became a bishop. Fathers Louis Vivier, John Baptist 
Lamorinie, Pierre Potier, and Pierre Du Januay of 
the Society of Jesus served at these French forts in 
the mid-eighteenth century. Father Julian Duvernay 
served at the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier from 1756 
to 1763. 

In 1761 the parliaments of several provinces 

of France condemned the Jesuits and took measures 
against them in the kingdom. They were expelled from 
Paris. In 1762 the Parliament of Paris, under the in- 
fluence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Due Etienne 
Fran(^ois de Choiseul), decreed the further suppres- 
sion of the Jesuits. They were driven from their col- 
leges and deprived of their properties; even their 
means of existence were destroyed. The Superior 
Council of Louisiana, following the example of Choi- 
seul, passed an act which suppressed the Jesuits in 
Louisiana and declared them dangerous to royal au- 
thority, to the rights of the bishops, and to the public 
safety. Their property was sold, and all their chapels 
were razed; they were forced to give up their mis- 
sions, to return to New Orleans, and to leave on the 
first vessel sailing to France. The Council carried 
out the decree even in the Illinois district, which had 
been ceded to England and which was no longer subject 
to France or Louisiana. Thus the Catholics of a vast 
territory were left without priests, and the Jesuits lost 
charge over the Illinois Indians, In 1763 Louisiana 
was ceded to Spain. Thus, after Father Duverney left, 
no missionary came to Vincennes until 1770. 


During the French and Indian War (1754-1763), 
the American colonies of England and France strug- 
gled for control of the North American continent. 
News of battles and expeditions reached the remote 
little posts at Vincennes, Ouiatenon, Kaskaskia, St. 
Joseph, and Prairie du Rocher. General Wolf's defeat 
of the French forces under Montcalm on the Plains of 
Abraham in 1759 determined English domination in 



»/#•»* ij 

Reverend Pierre Gibault 

Canada. According to the terms of the Treaty of Paris 
in 1763, France ceded all of Canada and nearly all of 
her other North American possessions to Great Brit- 
ain. The British conquest brought adverse effects to 
the French settlers, for soldiers enforced English 
rule on French posts and hamlets in the West. Cath- 
olics felt despondent under the British commanders. 
French religious and educational institutions lost their 
properties, their royal grants, and all income derived 
from benefactors in France. The religious orders 
were forbidden to recruit new members. Poverty and 
hardships continued for years among the Catholics. 
Sullen discontent grew in the little French hamlets and 
among their Indian friends; as a result, approximately 
a third of the French settlers moved to St. Louis and 
New Orleans. 


In 1764 the people at Vincennes addressed a 
letter to Joseph Olivier Briand, vicar-general of the 
diocese of Quebec, stating that they felt neglected and 
forgotten by the Church, and requested a priest. Un- 
fortunately, Briand, cut off from his supply of clergy- 
men from France and deprived of the Jesuits and the 
Recollects, was unable to find priests to fill more 
pressing needs. In St. Louis the veteran Father Se- 
bastian Louis Meurin found the difficulties and re- 
sponsibilities of serving the French and Indians of the 
Illinois country too burdensome and requested an as- 
sistant from the bishop of Quebec. 

In 1768 the latter sent his vicar-general, 
Father Pierre Gibault, to assist the aged priest. 
Father Gibault ministered to Catholics in the area; 
some had not seen a priest for years. For a time he 

resided at Kaskaskia and later at St. Genevieve, and 
Cahokia. In February, 1770, he visited Vincennes, 
and, during his sojourn of two months, heard confes- 
sions, revalidated marriages, and administered the 
sacraments. He received converts into the Church 
and strengthened the faith of many Catholics. In spite 
of the hardships and dangers of long journeys, he 
cared for the faithful in the surrounding country. He 
traveled to far distant communities--Peoria, Ouiate- 
non, St. Joseph's, and Michilmackinac. He wrote 
Bishop Briand in 1775, "This is the fourth voyage I 
have taken, the shortest of which was five hundred 
leagues." ' For a long time he was the only priest in 
the vast area that became the states of Illinois and 


The seventh bishop of Quebec, Joseph Olivier 
Briand, appealed to London to maintain the rights of 
the Catholic Church. Through his influence the Test 
Oath (allegiance to Britain) was so modified as to be 
acceptable by the Holy See. The passage of the Que- 
bec Act (June 2, 1774) by Parliament added the regions 
extending to the Ohio and Mississippi to the province 
of Quebec. The Act established French customary 
law as the permanent civil code of the region. It ad- 
mitted also to partial franchise the Roman Catholic 
population, guaranteed them freedom of public wor- 
ship, and confirmed them in the possession of their 
ancient churches and revenues. 

Canadians viewed the Quebec Act with indif- 
ference, although it was partially motivated by con- 
sideration for their security, welfare, and progress. 
Unpopular in England, the Act aroused the indignation 

of the American colonies, and was a causative factor 
in the Revolutionary War. However, the settlers at 
the missions along the Detroit, Wabash, Illinois, and 
Mississippi rivers considered the provisions of the 
Act definite concessions to their traditions and re- 

Long, smoldering political, economical, and 
social problems between the American colonies and 
Great Britain erupted in the Revolutionary War. The 
French settlers sympathized with the American cause 
and wished to see their ancient enemy defeated. The 
English controlled most of the forts and many of the 
Indian tribes in the West. Along the frontier, British- 
incited Indian raids kept the settlers in a constant state 
of alarm. The Americans determined to destroy Brit- 
ish influence and to establish claim to the territory. 


The Continental Congress had no authority over 
the western region, but Virginia lay claim to the coun- 
try northwest of the Ohio River, according to her in- 
terpretation of her charter. In the summer of 1778, 
Colonel George Rogers Clark led an expedition from 
Virginia to establish that claim. His little army ap- 
peared before Kaskaskia, where Clark conducted ne- 
gotiations with Reverend Pierre Gibault. After learn- 
ing that the Americans intended no religious persecu- 
tion or harm, Father Gibault persuaded his parishion- 
ers to accept Clark without opposition. Colonel Fran- 
cis Vigo, an Italian-born American Revolutionary War 
patriot, and the priest aided Clark on his march to 
Vincennes. There Father Gibault addressed the in- 
habitants and won their allegiance for the American 



George Rogers Clark treating with Indians at Cahokia, 

August - September, 1778, 
Clark and Reverend Pierre Gibault in the background 

cause. Clark accomplished his purpose without blood- 
shed and captured the British fort and its commandant. 

In 1775 Bishop Briand had issued a pastoral 
letter in which he had enjoined fidelity to the British 
crown. In 1776 he issued another letter urging to re- 
pentance all Canadians who had aided the Americans. 
He resorted to the drastic measure of refusing the 
sacraments to all Canadian sympathizers with the Co- 
lonial cause. The loyalty of the Bishop to the British 
during the Revolution eventuated in religious freedom 
for Canada. For aiding Clark, Bishop Briand ordered 
Father Gibault to return to Quebec and answer accu- 
sations of treason made by British army officers. The 
priest fled into the wilderness and sought refuge among 
the natives. Bishop Briand then appointed Father 
Meurin as vicar-general in the Illinois country. 

Father Gibault*s course cut him off from aid 
or recognition in British Canada. His support of the 
American cause reduced him and his people to great 
penury. From 1779 to 1784 Gibault remained away 
from Vincennes; in 1784 (after the resignation of Bish- 
op Briand), he reappeared with Reverend M. Payet 
and resumed his work. The following year he built a 
new log church and remodeled the old church for his 
residence. Gibault remained in Vincennes until 1789, 
when he resumed his circuit of the other missions. 
In 1791 he left the Illinois country and retired to Span- 
ish territory beyond the Mississippi River; he died at 
New Madrid in 1804. 

Through Clark's victory a vast territory be- 
came part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1781 
Virginia relinquished the territory northwest of the 
Ohio to the Continental Congress; the deed confirmed 
the French titles including those of the Catholic 
Church. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 recognized the 
independence of the United States and defined her west- 
ern boundary as the eastern bank of the Mississippi. 



The English at Fort Miami (the site of Fort 
Wayne) continually incited the Indians against the 
Americans. In the autumn of 1780, Agustus Mottin de 
La Balme planned a raid against the British at Detroit. 
With a party of Americans, including many from Vin- 
cennes, he advanced to Fort Miami, plundered the 
dwellings, pillaged the storehouses, and destroyed 
the property of the British. Afterwards, La Balme 
marched his weary men to a camp near the Aboite 
River. Little Turtle and his braves fell upon the 
sleeping band, and in a few minutes, had killed thirty 
or forty men, including La Balme. Only a few es- 
caped; others were taken prisoner. This defeat was 
doubtless a factor in undermining French prestige in 
the western country. 


The settlement of Maryland was planned in 
England by Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, 
under a charter granted to him June 20, 1632, by 
Charles I. The agents of the anti-Catholic Virginia 
Company opposed the charter and argued that the 
grant was an encroachment on Virginia's territory. 
The expedition sailed from Southampton, November 
22, 1633, stopped at Cowes in the Isle of Wight, and 
took on board the Jesuit priests, Andrew White and 
John Altham, with some lay brothers and servants. 
Of the approximate three hundred colonists, most 
were Catholics, although a few were Protestants. 
Cecil Calvert remained in England to protect the Col- 
ony's rights, but his brother Leonard --acting as gov- 
ernor — was to preserve peace and unity and avoid all 


religious controversies. 

The Indians received the colonists kindly. The 
following excerpt from Father White's NARRATIVE 
interest, "On 25 March 1634, we celebrated Mass for 
the first time in the island (St. Clement). This had 
never been done before in this part of the world."* 
Governor Calvert purchased a considerable tract of 
land from the Piscataway. A provincial government 
was proclaimed; the event marked the separation of 
church and state whereby religious freedom was first 
established on the American continent. Although the 
Marylanders enjoyed peace with the Indians, they ex- 
perienced much trouble from the Virginians. Cecil 
also contended with the Jesuits for a long time over 
their manner of acquiring and holding land within the 
bonds of his grant. His position was later vindicated 
by the general of the order and by the Vatican. In 
1645 the estimated white inhabitants in Maryland num- 
bered four or five thousand; seventy-five per cent 
were Catholics living in St. Marys and Charles coun- 
ties. In 1763 the Catholic population in Maryland was 
estimated between eight and ten thousand; fourteen 
Jesuits ministered to their spiritual needs. 


The common cause of the colonies found a 
champion in the disfranchised Catholic, Charles Car- 
roll of Carrollton. Through his influence Maryland 
cast her lot with the other colonies. Subsequently, 
two other Carrolls, Daniel and John, took prominent 
parts in the revolutionary struggle. John Carroll, 
born at Upper Marlboro, Maryland, on January 8, 
1735, was the third son of Daniel Carroll and Eleanor 


Darnall Carroll. John attended the Jesuit grammar 
school in Cecil County and studied abroad at St. 
Omer*s College in French Flanders. In 1753, he 
joined the Society of Jesus, studied at Liege, and was 
ordained a priest in 1769. In 1773 Pope Clement XIV 
ordered the suppression and dissolution of the Society 
of Jesus. Returning to America in June, 1774, Father 
Carroll lived in semi-retirement as Catholics were 
not permitted to worship publicly in Maryland. 

The success of the Revolution rendered neces- 
sary new arrangements and adjustments of ecclesias- 
tical jurisdiction and authority for Catholics in the 
thirteen states. On June 27, 1783, a meeting of the 
Catholic clergy of Maryland was held at Whitemarsh 
to consider the status and needs of the Church under 
the new political order. This meeting addressed a 
petition to Pope Pius VI, requesting the appointment of 
a prefect apostolic with episcopal powers. In response 
a decree was issued in 1784 organizing the Catholic 
Church and appointing Father John Carroll as superior 
of missions in the thirteen states. Father Carroll at 
once assumed the duties of his office. In his letter of 
acceptance he reported fifteen thousand eight hundred 
Catholics in Maryland, seven thousand in Pennsylvania, 
two hundred in Virginia, fifteen hundred in New York, 
a few in New England, and an unknown number scat- 
tered along the Mississippi. The total Catholic popu- 
lation in the country approximated thirty thousand. In 
a few years changed conditions necessitated a bishop 
with full authority and jurisdiction. 


On November 6, 1789, Pope Pius VI erected 
the see of Baltimore and named John Carroll the first 


bishop. The Pope directed: 

all the clergy and people dwelling in the aforesaid 
United States of America, though hitherto they may 
have been subject to other bishops of other dioceses, 
to be henceforward subject to the bishop of Baltimore? 

On August 16, 1790, John Carroll was conse- 
crated at Lulworth Castle, England, as the first bish- 
op of Baltimore with spiritual jurisdiction over all 
Catholics in the nation, approximately forty thousand. 
The Northwest Territory was still part of the diocese 
of Quebec, although its bishop exercised no jurisdic- 
tion. In his first pastoral letter, March 28, 1792, 
Carroll requested offertory collections for the sup- 
port of the clergy. Previously, Catholics in America 
had contributed little or nothing to support their 
priests. Bishop Carroll, with few priests and no sem- 
inaries or other institutions, was powerless to fill the 
calls for priests which came from all parts of his vast 


The storm of the French Revolution sent, at 
the opportune moment, a number of learned, zealous 
priests to America. One of these. Reverend Benedict 
Joseph Flaget, was born of a widowed mother, No- 
vember 7, 1763, at Coutournat, France. He began 
his study of philosophy and theology at the age of sev- 
enteen in the seminary at Clermont, completed his 
studies at Issy, and was ordained a priest in 1788. 
He taught theology at Nantes until the Revolution 
closed all institutions of learning in France. 


Father Flaget sailed for the United States with 
Father J. B. M. David and Stephen Badin and landed 
in Baltimore, March 28, 1792, where Bishop Carroll 
welcomed them. He was studying English with his 
Sulpician brethren when Bishop Carroll tested his self- 
sacrifice by sending him to Vincennes as missionary 
to the Indians and chaplain to the fort. Travel was 
slow and most difficult. Low water delayed him six 
months at Pittsburgh; then he journeyed via flatboat 
down the Ohio. George Rogers Clark met him and 
escorted him to Vincennes in December, 1792. 

Father Flaget found the log chapel in ruins. 
He restored the altar and hastily renovated and deco- 
rated the church in time to celebrate Midnight Mass. 
During the long absence of a priest, the community of 
seven hundred had grown so indifferent that only twelve 
approached the Sacraments at Midnight Mass. During 
the following months, he scheduled services and en- 
couraged attendance. He regularized marriages, bap- 
tized children, started a school, and gave lessons in 
industry, thrift, and charity. He introduced handi- 
crafts and encouraged agriculture. He did not neglect 
the neighboring Indians; during a smallpox epidemic, 
Father Flaget attended afflicted Indians until he fell 
ill. Following his recovery, Bishop Carroll recalled 
him to Baltimore in the spring of 1795. He served as 
vice-rector and as a teacher at Georgetown College. 

Bishop Carroll conferred Holy Orders in 1793 
on Reverend Stephen Theodore Badin, the first priest 
ordained within the limits of the thirteen original 
states. Born in Orleans, France, on July 17, 1768, 
Badin was educated at Montaigu College, in Paris; and 
entered the Sulpician Seminary at Orleans in 1789. 
As a subdeacon he accompanied Father Flaget to 
America. After his ordination Father Badin spent 
some time improving his English at Georgetown. On 
May 25, 1793, Bishop Carroll appointed the young 


priest to Bardstown, Kentucky. Father Badin traveled 
on foot, by flatboat down the Ohio, and then walked 
until he reached Lexington, Kentucky. Occasionally 
he celebrated Mass in a house; he spent much of his 
time in the saddle riding from one isolated community 
to another. He was imperfectly acquainted with the 
languages of his parishioners and knew little of back- 
woods life; often he suffered hunger, cold, and ex- 

In 1792 Bishop Carroll had interceded with 
President Washington in regard to missions among the 
Indians. Recognizing the beneficial influence of Father 
Flaget with the red men, Washington wished another 
priest to continue the good work. Eventually, the 
President recommended to Congress a civilizing and 
Christianizing policy for the Indians. One result was 
the acceptance of the services of a Catholic priest, 
who was allotted a small annual salary. 

As a replacement for Father Flaget at Vin- 
cennes. Bishop Carroll sent Reverend John Francis 
Rivet, who had arrived from Spain in December, 1794. 
As Father Rivet instructed the Indians, he also won 
their friendship for the United States. The English 
government, realizing Father Rivet's influence, sent 
a Canadian priest in an unsuccessful attempt to win 
over the Indians and block alliances with the Ameri- 
cans. Father Rivet became vicar-general in the West 
in 1798 and continued until his death in 1804. During 
the following years Vincennes was without a resident 
pastor, although Father Donatian Olivier from Illinois 
and Fathers Badin and Nerinckx from Kentucky visited 
the community at intervals. 


Right Reverend Benedict Joseph Flaget, 
First Bishop of Bardstown 



The Right Reverend John Carroll served for 
seventeen years as the only bishop in the United States. 
Greater administrative responsibilities, advancing 
age, and increasing infirmities caused him to recom- 
mend to the Holy See the erection of four new bishop- 
rics — Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown. 
On April 8, 1808, Pope Pius VII raised Baltimore to 
the rank of a metropolitan see, and Bishop Carroll was 
made archbishop. The Holy See adopted all of Car- 
roirs recommendations. 

Father Flaget was appointed the first bishop of 
Bardstown. At first he declined the honor, and his 
Sulpician colleagues approved his action. However, 
when he visited Paris in 1809, the superior of the or- 
der. Father Emery, received him with the greeting, 
"My Lord, you should be in your diocese! The Pope 
commands you to accept!" Leaving France some 
months later with Father Simon Brute, and Guy Igna- 
tius Chabrat, Bishop-elect Flaget again landed in Bal- 
timore. On November 4, 1810, he was consecrated 
bishop of Bardstown by Archbishop Carroll. 

For fourteen years Father Badin ministered to 
Catholics in settlements widely scattered over Ken- 
tucky and southern Indiana. He rode more than one 
hundred thousand miles on horseback. He was as- 
sisted occasionally by other priests including Father 
Nerinckx. In 1811 Bishop Flaget, whom Father Badin 
had recommended as the head of the new see of Bards- 
town, visited Father Badin in Pottingers Creek, Ken- 
tucky. Difficulties soon arose about the holding of 
church property between the two men without inter- 
fering with their friendship. Unable to resolve their 
differences, they went together to Baltimore in 1812 
to submit the controversy to Archbishop Carroll. The 
dispute seemed insoluble, and they returned to Ken- 


tucky in 1813. 

The people of Vincennes applied to their for- 
mer pastor, Bishop Flaget, for a resident priest. Un- 
able to send one, he visited them himself in 1814 and, 
with Reverend Donatian Olivier, remained some time 
with the people. Religious and secular education had 
been neglected among both children and adults, and 
many had strayed from the faith. He gave instructions 
and confirmed Catholics for the first time in Indiana. 
He visited Vincennes many times as missionary and 
bishop. On April 25, 1818, he appointed Reverend 
Anthony Blanc as resident missionary. During the 
latter's two-year incumbency at Vincennes, he built 
two log chapels in nearby settlements. Fathers Jean- 
jean and Ferrari assisted him at intervals. He was 
succeeded by Father Dahmen and later by Father 
Champourier. It is not known whether or not Bishop 
Flaget ever visited Fort Wayne. 

On August 8, 1819, Bishop Flaget dedicated 
his new cathedral in Bardstown, and a week later he 
consecrated his coadjutor bishop. Reverend J. B. M. 
David. Because his differences with the Bishop over 
property rights had not been resolved. Father Badin 
decided to return to France to collect funds for the 
American missions. While abroad he served parishes 
in France and Belgium and made a pilgrimage to Rome. 

The CATHOLIC ALMANAC for 1822 gives the 
following brief account of the Church in the region: 

The states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois are 
daily adding more and more to the Church. In each 
of these, several large congregations of Catholics are 
found. They are chiefly French, who extended them- 
selves through parts of this country as early as the 
seventeenth century. Vincennes in Indiana was for- 
merly a station of the Jesuits, whence they made ex- 
cursions among the savage tribes. 


Father Champoarier, came from Bardstown to 
reside permanently in Vincennes in May, 1823. He 
described the church as so 

nearly rotten and out of repair that at any little storm 
it becomes very dangerous to stay in it. Moreover, 
it is open to every wind and penetrated by every drop 
of rain.^ 

He appealed to American Catholics for aid to build a 
better church. In 1826 he erected a larger and more 
suitable structure on the site of the old log church. 


Upon his return to the United States in 1828, 
Father Badin accepted a parish at Monroe, Michigan. 
After eighteen months, he took charge of the Potawat- 
omi Indians in western Michigan. Chief Pokagon wel- 
comed the priest to his cabin. James E. Deery, a 
member of the Catholic Historical Society of Indiana, 
credits Father Badin with the founding of an Indian 

The first Catholic orphans' home conducted 
under Catholic auspices in Indiana, in fact in the 
Northwest Territory, was established on the present 
site of Notre Dame University in 1833 by Reverend 
Stephen Theodore Badin, who was in charge of the Pot- 
awatomi Indian Mission in St. Joseph County, Indiana, 
from 1830-36. Named St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum, 
it was chartered by the legislature of Indiana, Febru- 
ary 2, 1833. It must have been devoted to the care of 
the children of the Indians, as there were very few 


A replica of the log chapel (on the present 

site of the Notre Dame Campus) built by 

Father Badin 

white persons in St. Joseph County at the time. 

In 1831 Father Badin acquired, either by pur- 
chase or grant, a section of land (near the site of 
present-day South Bend) surrounding twin lakes with 
the express design of holding it as the site for a future 
Catholic college. About the same time he built a log 
cabin, twenty-four feet wide and forty feet long, on 
St. Mary*s Lake as a chapel and priest's home. In 
1836 Father Badin gave the tract to the bishop of Vin- 
cennes to be used for the aforementioned purpose. 
The latter offered the land to the Congregation of Holy 
Cross, and Father Edward Sorin gratefully accepted 
the gift. The site eventually became the campus of 
Notre Dame University. 


Father Badin visited Fort Wayne in 1830. He 
offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and preached in 
the home of Francis Comparet, who approximated the 
Catholic congregation in and about Fort Wayne at one 
hundred families. 

Translated from the French, the first record 
of a Catholic baptism reads as follows: 

At Fort Wayne, diocese of Bardstown, I, the 
undersigned, priest and missionary apostolic, bap- 
tized Peter David, born the fifth of October, 1830, of 
the civil marriage of Peter Gibaud and Mary Gibaud. 
The sponsors were John Baptist Becket and Theresa 
Duret, his wife. 

Stephen Theodore Badin 
Vicar-General of Bardstown and Cincinnati ^ 


The first Catholic marriage of record in Fort 
Wayne follows: 

In the year 1831, the thirteenth of February 
(the contracting parties hereinafter named, for sev- 
eral years residents of Fort Wayne, in Indiana, of the 
diocese of Bardstown, residing far distant from a 
priest, the nearest being one hundred thirty miles, 
were for this reason obliged to contract civil marriage 
before William Ewing Judge-probate of the county of 
Allen), I the undersigned priest, have come to preach 
a mission at Fort Wayne, above named, have given 
the nuptial benediction to James Aveline, the eldest 
son of Francis Aveline and Genevieve Cardinal, and to 
Catharine Comparet, eldest daughter of Michael Com- 
paret and Agnes Jeanne, who have signed the present 
Register, together with John Baptist Godfroy, Francis 
Renaud, John B. Becquette, and Peter Courveille, who 
have signed with us or affixed their marks. 

James Aveline. 

Catharine X Comparet. 

Stephen Theodore Badin, 
Vicar-General of Bardstown and Cincinnati. 

Jean B. Godfroy 

Francis X Reno 

His Witnesses. 

Jno. B.X Becquette 


Pierre X Courveille, 

mark ® 


Very Reverend Stephen Theodore Badin, V.G. 

Robert S. Robertson lists the following Catho- 
lic pioneers in Fort Wayne: James Peltier, John B. 
Bourie, Lucien P. Ferry, John Godfroy, John B. Bec- 
quette, John Trentman, P. Wagner, M. Forbing, 
Francis Comparet, Michael Hedekin, John Urbine, 
Jean Baptist Richardville, Jacob and Henry Stier, B. 
Phillips, George Baker, P. Fox, Jorgs, Lannon, and 

In 1831 Father Badin assisted in choosing and 
purchasing a site for a church. The preliminary ar- 
rangements for the transfer were made on July 18, 
1831, when a large part of present-day Cathedral 
Square was purchased for one hundred dollars. Trans- 
fer of title does not appear to have been completed 
until 1835, when the property was deeded by Samuel 
and Eliza Hanna, who had purchased all the unsold 
Barr holdings. The preliminary purchase was made 
in the name of Francis Comparet, but subsequently 
the property was deeded to a committee composed of 
Francis Comparet, Francis D. Lasselle, John B. 
Bruno, Charles Hillsworth, and Michael Hedekin. 
The property was afterward transferred to the eccle- 
siastical authorities in trust for the congregation. 
The Wabash and Erie Canal laborers were liberal 
contributors to the purchase fund. 

In Fort Wayne and along the Canal prevailing 
sickness and mortality, the absence of resident pas- 
tors, and poverty prevented the building of new 
churches. Father Badin, who returned to Fort Wayne 
in 1833-34, urged that no time should be lost in erect- 
ing chapels along the canal line, for when work was 
completed on one section, the Irish Catholic hands 
moved to another section, and the prospect of chapels 
diminished or vanished. In Fort Wayne the site and 
timber for a church were secured through his efforts, 
but construction was delayed until 1837. 

During the preceding year Reverend Louis 


Mueller was appointed the first resident pastor of 
Fort Wayne. In 1837 Father Mueller built the first 
Catholic church on Cathedral Square. The small 
building of rough logs measured thirty-five by sixty- 
five feet. Unplastered and sparsely furnished with 
rough benches, this crude place of worship was named 
St. Augustine's Church. The congregation was largely 
composed of German families. Father Mueller left 
Fort Wayne in 1840. 

After years of unremitting toil Father Badin 
asked to be relieved, and his request was granted. In 
1837 he was appointed vicar-general of Bardstown. 
He retired to Cincinnati, where he died on April 21, 
1853. In May, 1906, his remains were transferred 
to Notre Dame and placed beneath the floor of a log 
chapel which was an exact reproduction of his first 
chapel on St. Mary's Lake. 


In June, 1829, Bishop Flaget made his sixth 
visitation in Indiana. He found Catholics at New Al- 
bany, Knobs, Black Oak Ridge, and Washington. The 
jubilee granted by Pope Leo XII was proclaimed; Mass 
was offered at all these stations, instructions were 
given, and marriages and baptisms were performed 
or revalidated. Several years later Bishop Flaget 
consulted with Bishop Joseph Rosati of St. Louis. The 
two prelates addressed the Holy See and petitioned the 
erection of Indiana into a diocese with the seat at Vin- 
cennes; they proposed Father Brute for the miter. 

Simon William Gabriel Brute de Remur was 
born at Rennes, France, on March 20, 1779. The 
untimely deathof his father, Simon-Guillaume-Gabriel 


Right Reverend Simon Gabriel Brute, D.D. 
First Bishop of Vincennes 

Brute de Remur, superintendent of the royal domains 
of Brittany, threw the responsibility of his education 
on his mother, Jeanne-Rene'e Vatar, widow of Francis 
Vatar, printer to the king and parliament. A reten- 
tive memory, a lively imagination, and close applica- 
tion made him an accomplished scholar. He had at- 
tended the schools of his native city several years 
when the Revolution interrupted his studies. 

He learned and practiced the skills of a com- 
positor in his mother's print shop, where she placed 
him to avoid his enrollment in a regiment of children 
who took part in the fusilades of the Reign of Terror. 
He witnessed many horrible and exciting scenes at 
the trials and executions of priests and nobles. He 
frequented the prisons, made friends with the guards, 
and carried letters for incarcerated clergymen. He 
entered medical college in 1796 and graduated in 1803. 
In the same year, however, he entered the Seminary 
of Saint-Sulpice at Paris. He was ordained a priest in 
1808 and taught theology at the Seminary for two years. 

In 1809 Bishop-elect Flaget persuaded Brute' to 
come to the United States; they landed at Baltimore on 
August 19, 1810. In 1815 Father Brute'^was appointed 
president of St. Mary*s College in Baltimore; several 
years later he became president of Mount St. Mary*s 
College at Emmitsburg, Maryland, and also served 
the Catholics of that vicinity. The Holy See created 
the Diocese of Vincennes and appointed Father Brute 
as its first bishop in 1834. He was consecrated on 
October 28, 1834, at St. Louis by Bishop Flaget, as- 
sisted by Bishops Rosati and Purcell and was installed 
on November 5, at Vincennes. 

His diocese comprised the entire state of In- 
diana and eastern Illinois. His clergy consisted of 
two priests in Indiana, Father Lalumiere and Father 
Ferneding, and one at Chicago, Father St. Cyr. His 
unfinished cathedral, although one hundred fifteen feet 


long and sixty feet wide, was unplastered and unwhite- 
washed, and without a sanctuary or a sacristy. His 
home was a one -room dwelling; his only revenue con- 
sisted of one hundred dollars in pew rent and a sub- 
scription list of two hundred forty dollars. 

Excerpts from Bishop Brute's lengthy report 
to the Leopoldine Association give an account of his 
first episcopal visitation in his diocese in 1835. 

I went north in Illinois as far as Chicago on 
Lake Michigan. Reverend St. Cyr had arrived there 
from St. Louis and had enabled the Catholics to make 
their Easter communion, so I gave confirmation to 
only a few. Chicago is now composed of about four 
hundred souls — French, Canadians, Americans, Irish, 
and a good number of Germans. From Chicago, we 
went around the end of Lake Michigan to the St. Joseph 
River and the mission of the Reverend Louis de Seille 
at the Indian village at Pokagon. This mission is sit- 
uated just outside of our diocese and in that of Detroit. 
The mission was established many years ago by Father 
Badin. Father de Seille has lived three or four years 
at Pokagon. 

On Thursday evening, we arrived at South 
Bend, a little town beautifully situated on the high 
banks of the St. Joseph River. It is growing rapidly 
owing to its many advantages. Crossing the river, we 
visited St. Mary's of-the-Lake, the mission house of 
Father Badin, who has lately moved to Cincinnati. He 
had a school there kept by two sisters, who have also 
gone away, leaving the place vacant. The six hundred 
twenty-five acres of land and the small lake named 
St. Mary's make it a most desirable site and one soon, 
I hope, to be occupied by some prosperous institution. 
Reverend Badin has transferred it to the bishop on the 
condition of his assuming the debts— a trifling consid- 
eration compared with the importance of the place. 


On Friday morning, we left for the Tippecanoe 
River and the village of Chickakos. The Indians had 
heard of our coming and had sent some of their num- 
ber in advance to ascertain our movement. Coffee had 
been prepared at the small village only three miles 
from the principal one. We dismounted and, sitting 
on mats of woven straw, partook of their kind cheer. 
Then we crossed the river and soon arrived at the 
main village. Chickakos village is not so large as 
Pokagon, yet the chapel is nearly as large. It is, how- 
ever, without ceiling and without a room for the mis- 
sionary. Father de Seille had baptized only about one 
hundred twenty persons; I confirmed sixteen of them. 
On our arrival, all assembled in the chapel, and Fa- 
ther de Seille introduced me as their bishop, the head 
in these parts of all the other Black Robes. 

On Sunday morning, Chickakos made the 
speech. Having expressed his confidence in Father de 
Seille and in me, he said he would present me with 
half a section, three hundred twenty acres of their 
land. We replied through the interpreter and then 
prepared for Mass and confirmation. We slept on the 
benches of the chapel and some of the straw from the 
floor, wrapped up in our greatcoats. Our food was 
boiled corn, fish, venison, and wild turkey minced to- 
gether in one dish. We also had some cranberries 
broken and mixed with sugar which they got from 
trees. Our drink was water; coffee was not to be had. 
I was to leave them after vespers, so before we be- 
gan, they came to sign the deed to the land presented 
to the Church; we had drawn the document in as legal 
a form as we could. After exchanging a few parting 
words and giving them my blessing, we mounted our 
horses and were escorted for some miles by a large 
number of Indians. Chickakos was at their head. Be- 
fore leaving us, they dismounted from their horses 
and asked their bishop's blessing again. 


The next day we reached Logansport, a rapidly 
improving town on the Canal. The Canal is nearly 
completed and will unite the Wabash with the Maumee 
at Fort Wayne and thus Lake Erie with the Ohio and 
the Mississippi through the states of Indiana and Illi- 
nois. I found a good number of Catholics in the town 
and promised to send them one of the first priests I 
could obtain. I said Mass the next morning and then 
left for home, yet some days* journey through Fay- 
etteville, Attica, Covington, Terre Haute, etc. Few 
Catholics are as yet collected in these growing towns, 
but soon there will be more. 

Shortly after my return. Father Lalumiere 
came home, and the account of his journey was very 
consoling. He had found more Catholics than I had 
and many places ready to receive a priest. In three 
places they had begun to build churches. At Fort 
Wayne they had finished one, approximately sixty by 
thirty feet, and the congregation numbered one hun- 
dred fifty Catholic families. I was happy to send them 
Father Felix Matthew Ruff from Metz, France, who 
speaks three languages --French, English, and Ger- 
man. A good many Germans live there and in the en- 
vironments. I had ordained Reverend Ruff subdeacon 
and deacon before my journey to Chicago and had sent 
him to St. Mary's Seminary in St. Louis to make his 
retreat; he was ordained by Doctor Rosati/" 

Following his visitation, Bishop Brut^ sailed 
for Europe to recruit priests for his diocese and to 
obtain funds to complete his cathedral and to build 
churches, schools, and an orphanage. Fourteen 
priests in the Vincennes diocese worked in parishes 
and missions in Indiana and eastern Illinois in 1836. 
Fort Wayne and South Bend had resident priests before 
Chicago. The roster of priests in the diocese as re- 
ported in the CATHOLIC ALMANAC of 1837 follows: 


Stanislaus Buteux Lewis J. Neyron 

James Corbe Patrick 0*Berirne 
Celestine de la Hailandiere Matthew Ruff 

Joseph Ferneding Irenaeus St. Cyr 

J. Claude Francois Maurice de St. Palais 

Simon Lalumiere Bernard Shaffer 

Louis Mueller John A. Vabret " 


Following the death of Bishop Brute'^on June 26, 
1839, Father Celestine de la Hailandiere, one of the 
Briton priests who had accompanied Bishop Brute to 
America in 1836 was named the second bishop of Vin- 
cennes. As he was in Europe at the time of his pred- 
ecessor's death, he was consecrated in Paris by Bish- 
op Forbin Janson on August 18, 1839. He remained in 
France for several months and exerted every effort to 
obtain needed aid for his diocese. He sent ahead a 
number of clerical students and several priests; he 
also sent large stores of sacerdotal vestments, sacred 
vessels, and books which he had secured from friends. 

He persuaded the Eudists (Society of Jesus and 
Mary) to send a body of priests to found a college in 
Vincennes. He induced the Congregation of Holy Cross 
to send a delegation of brothers to establish schools 
for boys throughout the diocese and the Sisters of 
Providence to send nuns to provide for the education 
of girls, orphanages, and hospitals. 

After his return to his diocese, he held a dioc- 
esan synod in 1844. Bishop Hailandiere was a man of 
restless activity, and his energy made him unpopular 
with many. He journeyed to Rome in 1845 to resign 
his see, but Pope Gregory XVI induced him to return 
to his diocese and resume his responsibilities. He 



Right Reverend Julian Benoit, V.G. 

submitted his resignation again in 1847; the pontiff 
accepted it and Bishop Hailandiere returned to Brittany, 
where he resided until his death in 1882. In accord- 
ance with his wishes, his body was returned to the 
Cathedral of Vincennes and interred in the crypt be- 
neath the sanctuary. 


After the departure of Father Mueller in 1840, 
Father Julian Benoit was named second pastor of St. 
Augustine's Church in Fort Wayne. Born in Septmon- 
cel, France, on October 17, 1808, Julian Benoit re- 
ceived his early education in the school of his native 
village. At seventeen he began the study of theology 
at the Seminary of Orgelet. Later he taught classes 
in Lyons for four years until he met Bishop Brute'', who 
recruited him for the Vincennes diocese. Ordained by 
Bishop Brute^at Mount St. Mary's College, Emmits- 
burg, Maryland, in 1837, he spent the next few years 
as a missionary at Leopold, near Evansville, Indiana. 
His salary for the period totaled $63.00. 

Father Benoit was at Leopold when he received 
his assignment to Fort Wayne. He arrived on April 
16, 1840, and found the little church burdened with a 
debt of $4, 367. He soon cleared the indebtedness and 
later purchased the southern portion of the square for 
a cemetery. Interments were made there until about 
1850. In addition to Fort Wayne, he attended mission- 
ary stations at Lagro, Huntington, Columbia City, 
Warsaw, Goshen, Avilla, New Haven, Besancon, Hesse 
Cassel, and Decatur. Father Benoit found the hard- 
ships of backwoods traveling beyond his strength, and 
the bishop assigned him a young assistant, Reverend 
Joseph Hamion, who unfortunately died at Logansport 


in 1842. Daring epidemics Father Benoit made sick 
calls as far away as Muncie and Defiance. In 1840 a 
number of newly arrived French families settled six 
miles north of Fort Wayne and called their community 
New France (present-day Academie). Father Benoit 
celebrated Mass for them in the home of Isadore 
Pinchon and served as visiting pastor for eleven years. 

In 1841 Father Benoit visited Europe and re- 
turned with Father Joseph Rudolph, who remained 
three years as assistant and afterwards became the 
founder of the convent and church buildings at Olden- 
burg, Indiana. Father Benoit also brought with him 
twenty-five thousand francs from benefactors in Al- 
sace to the Sisters of Providence in Vigo County, Indi- 
ana. Three other assistants succeeded Father Rudolph 
— Fathers Francis Anthony Carius, Alphonse Muns- 
china, and Edward Faller. Each remained with Fa- 
ther Benoit for a short time before being reassigned. 

Father Benoit established the first Catholic 
schools in Fort Wayne. By 1846, he had erected a 
grade school and secured three Sisters of Providence 
from St. Mary*s in Vigo County, as teachers for the 
girls. He later opened a boys* school in a shop on the 
corner of Jefferson and Clinton streets. After several 
lay teachers had taught there, the Brothers of Holy 
Cross assumed charge of the boys. 

Some years later, Father Benoit acquired a 
new site for a Catholic cemetery on the banks of the 
St. Mary*s River, directly south from the Pennsyl- 
vania tracks. The land served as a graveyard from 
1851 to 1873. (The site on Wall Street is now occupied 
by the Essex Wire Company). 



The old fort still stood in ruins when Father 
Benoit came to Fort Wayne in 1840. The original 
council house of the Miami tribe (located on East Main 
Street a little west of the fort) was frequented by the 
red men who lived in the environs of Fort Wayne, 
Huntington, and Peru. 

In 1848 the federal government ordered these 
Indians to leave their lands in Indiana and settle on a 
reservation in Kansas. The Miami numbered about 
eight hundred and were led by Chief LaFontaine, 
whom, together with his wife and children, Father 
Benoit had received into the Church. The Indians, 
however, refused to leave unless Father Benoit would 
go with them. But Bishop de la Hailandiere felt that 
Father Benoit should not leave his congregation. Fi- 
nally, the government sent troops to enforce the or- 
der. The commanding officer called on Father Benoit 
and begged him to lead the Indians away peacefully. 
"Unless you go with them, " he said, "they will not go, 
and I will be obliged to hunt them down like wild beasts 
and kill them."*^ Father Benoit asked Reverend Ney- 
ron to attend the Fort Wayne parish while the former 
was away. The tribe started overland in the summer 
of 1849. Father Benoit went bycanalboat to Cincinnati; 
thence over the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to St, 
Louis. He continued the journey by stagecoach and 
finally reached the reservation designated by the gov- 
ernment. He stayed with the migrants about two weeks 
and then returned to Fort Wayne. In 1853-54 the first 
rectory was erected on Cathedral Square under the 
direction of Father Benoit. 



In 1848 thirty German families of St. Augus- 
tine's Church organized to build a church wherein the 
gospel might be preached in their own language. Ac- 
cordingly, they purchased property on the southeast 
corner of Lafayette and Jefferson streets for seventeen 
hundred dollars. Five men--Bernard Meyer, Nicholas 
Jostvert, Henry and Lucas Hoevel, and Bernard Voors 
--mortgaged their farms to secure the money. 

In the same year, Lorentz Meyer began exca- 
vating for the foundation of the new brick church. The 
dimensions of the building were thirty-two by sixty- 
four feet. Although cholera interrupted the progress 
of the work, the parishioners took possession of their 
unfinished church in the late fall. On November 29, 
these thirty families moved in procession from St. 
Augustine's Church to the new edifice. Reverend F. 
X. Weninger, a missionary, conducted the solemn 
entry into the church, dedicated it to the service 
of God, and named the edifice "The Mother of God 
Church." Father Benoit and Father Edward M. Faller, 
who was named pastor, participated in the ceremonies. 
In 1857, after serving nine years. Reverend Faller 
was transferred to New Albany, and Reverend Joseph 
Weutz was appointed his successor. The erection of 
the church entailed an expense of thirty thousand dol- 
lars. In 1848 a small one-story frame house was built 
as a pastoral residence. A year after the opening of 
the new church, a small school for German Catholic 
children was moved from Calhoun Street and located 
near the priest's residence. 



In 1844 the diocese of Chicago was established, 
and thereafter the diocese of Vincennes was restricted 
to Indiana. The Right Reverend John Stephen Bazin, 
who had succeeded Bishop Hailandiere,died less than 
six months after being consecrated. In 1848 the Pope 
bestowed the miter of Vincennes on Reverend Maurice 
de St. Palais, a native of France who had come to the 
diocese of Vincennes with Bishop BruteC 

The First Provincial Council of Cincinnati was 
held in 1855. Bishop de St. Palais made a plea for the 
division of his diocese and told of the ever-increasing 
number of churches in the northern part of the state 
because of heavy immigration from Europe. He re- 
ported that Fort Wayne had two churches and that other 
towns of northern Indiana had organized parishes; he 
recommended that the Summit City be named the epis- 
copal seat. The bishops petitioned the Holy See to 
create a new diocese. 

On September 22, 1857, the sovereign pontiff 
created the diocese of Fort Wayne, comprising forty- 
two counties north of the boundaries of Warren, Foun- 
tain, Montgomery, Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Dela- 
ware, and Randolph counties--a territory of 17,431 
square miles. John Henry Luers was appointed bishop. 
The CATHOLIC ALMANAC for 1858 notes that twenty- 
six churches existed in the area. The clergy num- 
bered twenty priests, both secular and regular. There 
were four religious communities --two for men and 
two for women. The parochial educational system 
consisted of six schools, one college, and one acad- 
emy. The Catholic population was estimated at twen- 
ty-five thousand. 

John Henry Luers was born on September 29, 
1819, near the city of Munster in Westphalia, Ger- 


Right Reverend John Henry Luers, D.D. 
First Bishop of Fort Wayne 

many. The family emigrated in 1833, landed in New 
York, and settled on a farm near Piqua, Ohio. John, 
just fourteen, became a clerk. Archbishop John B. 
Purcell of Cincinnati encouraged him to study for the 
priesthood and sent him to St. Francis Xavier Semi- 
nary near Cincinnati. The Archbishop ordained him 
priest on November 11, 1846. His mentor gave him a 
difficult assignment at St. Joseph's parish in Cincin- 
nati. The congregation was engaged in erecting a 
church, but the work was at a standstill because of a 
heavy debt. Twelve years after his arrival, Father 
Luers completed the church, paid the debt, and built 
a new school. 

He was consecrated a bishop on January 10, 
1858, in Cincinnati and set out for Fort Wayne shortly 
afterwards. He arrived, alone and unannounced, at 
the residence of Father Benoit. His procathedral, St. 
Augustine's, was in a delapidated condition. After 
appointing Father Benoit his vicar-general, he started 
traveling over his diocese; later he was seldom at 
home in Fort Wayne. 


For a long time Father Benoit had been hoping 
for a real Cathedral, so in 1859 St. Augustine's Church 
was moved to the east side of Cathedral Square; short- 
ly thereafter the building was destroyed by fire. Fa- 
ther Benoit as the architect and Thomas Lau as the 
carpentry contractor designed a Gothic structure, one 
hundred eighty feet long and eighty feet wide, with 
twin towers in the facade flanking the main portal. 
Father Benoit decided to appoint a building committee 
and named Henry Baker, Michael Hedekin, Maurice 
Cody, and Jacob Kintz. The committee was charged 


Cathedral Of The Immaculate Conception, 
Fort Wayne, Indiana 

with the fund-raising responsibility and was given one 
thousand dollars to finance the laying of the foundation. 
The pastor and the committee inaugurated a subscrip- 
tion drive for the new edifice; paid pledges totaled 
fourteen thousand dollars. Father Benoit then jour- 
neyed to New Orleans where for seven months he suc- 
cessfully raised additional funds. 

The foundations of the new Cathedral were laid 
on the site of old St. Augustine's, which in turn had 
occupied the site of the first church. The cornerstone 
was laid on Trinity Sunday, June 19, 1859, by Bishop 
Luers. Archbishop John Baptist Purcell of Cincinnati 
preached the sermon for this event, which drew about 
three thousand of the town's ten thousand people. 

The first brick was laid on July 10, 1859. 
James Silver was the contractor for the brick work. 
Originally, the building was of red brick trimmed with 
gray sandstone. Of German Gothic design, the Ca- 
thedral's exterior buttresses and interior groined 
arches vault a high-pitched roof covering the nave and 
high side aisles, and its matching front towers are 
surmounted by twin spires. 

In addition to their fund-raising efforts, the 
building committee each donated one of the original 
windows in the church and their names were inscribed 
on them. The fourteen twenty-eight-foot Gothic win- 
dows were of stained glass in "gorgeous colors." The 
thirty-six-foot sanctuary window contained a repre- 
sentation of the Immaculate Virgin in aluminous cloud 
of glory, surrounded by angels and with many Chris- 
tian emblems encircling it. 

The ceiling is supported by fourteen clustered 
Gothic columns twenty-two feet apart, from which 
spring light and graceful groined arches, like those 
of Westminster Abbey and of Trinity Church, New 
York. The interior was painted by U. C. Tandrop of 
Cincinnati in "mostly neutral tints — "a warm drab and 


a delicate roseate hue predominating. On the sanc- 
tuary walls were large frescoes of St. Augustine, St. 
Patrick, and the only canonized saints of the Americas 
at that time, St. Rose of Lima and St. Mary Anne of 
Jesus, called "the Lily of the Quito." In the recesses 
of the middle arches of the nave were frescoes of the 
twelve Apostles. 

The sanctuary was a semi-circle thirty-four 
feet deep and thirty-six feet wide. The main altar is 
believed to have been the gold-painted one replaced in 
1932. The pews were not installed yet either. There 
were to be two hundred twenty -eight of them with a 
seating capacity of eleven hundred forty exclusive of 
the sanctuary and choir loft. The church was equipped 
with gaslights and heated by two hot-air furnaces in 
the basement. 

The Cathedral was completed and dedicated in 
December, 1860. It is appropriate here to emphasize 
the dates of the laying of the cornerstone as 1859 and 
the dedication as 1860. The exact day of the dedication 
of the Cathedral in December, 1860, is cloudy. 

Whichever day it was, Bishop Luers, accom- 
panied by Father Benoit and several other clergymen, 
blessed the Cathedral at ten o'clock and offered Mass. 
The Reverend Francis Lawler, of La Porte, preached 
the dedication sermon. The people gathered again at 
seven o'clock in the evening to hear an address by the 

The building cost $54, 000 and the furnishings 
an additional $9, 000, initially. The money--$46, 400 
— was raised by Father Benoit from the contributions 
he collected in New Orleans, from his own purse, and 
from other sources. Father Benoit, who had received 
only $63 in salary during the three years prior to 
coming to Fort Wayne in 1840, had by wise invest- 
ments in real estate acquired considerable means, all 
of which he disposed of during his lifetime in countless 


Library Hall 

Bishop's Residence 

Buildings on Cathedral Square 
Fort Wayne, Indiana 

St. Augustine's Academy 

generosities to the poor, and in gifts of land, build- 
ings and money to the Church, the diocese and insti- 

About the time construction was completed, a 
bazaar was held to raise money for the building; net 
gains totaled twenty-six hundred dollars. Thousands 
crowded the building to admire its graceful propor- 
tions. Father Benoit erected the episcopal residence 
about the same time at a cost of sixteen thousand dol- 


Father Benoit revisited Europe in 1865 for an 
extended stay of thirteen months. In 1874 he journeyed 
to Europe as a member of the first American pilgrim- 

Many honors were bestowed on Father Benoit. 
In 1852 he was named vicar-general of the diocese of 
Vincennes; he was appointed to the same office in the 
diocese of Fort Wayne in 1858. During Bishop Luer*s 
visit to Europe in 1865, Father Benoit served as ad- 
ministrator of the diocese. At the Second Plenary 
Council of Baltimore in 1866, he was the theologian of 
Bishop Luers; also served as theologian to the Bishop 
at four provincial councils in Cincinnati. He acted as 
administrator of the diocese from June, 1871, to April, 
1872, and again in 1883. Leo XIII, on June 12, 1883, 
conferred upon Father Benoit the honors and title of 
domestic prelate and investiture took place in the Ca- 
thedral on August 16. Father Benoit served the con- 
gregation of the Cathedral as pastor for forty-five 
years. In 1884 his health began to fail; he died Janu- 
ary 26, 1885, and was buried in the Cathedral crypt. 



When Bishop Luers acceded to the diocese of 
Fort Wayne, three Catholic schools existed in the 
Summit City. He showed great concern for the ele- 
mentary and secondary education of Catholic youth, 
and under his leadership schools increased in number. 
In purchasing sites for churches, he always included 
adjacent ground for the school. Many of his priests 
helped to build the schools from their own means and 
taught classes therein. These early schools had many 
disadvantages; the buildings were small and ill-suited. 
Sometimes the pupils were taught in the church or in 
the priest's home. Choice of teachers or long school 
terms were not possible. Teachers often lacked pro- 
fessional training; some were chosen because they 
could also instruct the choir and play the organ. A 
few were graduates of colleges or universities. More 
lucrative occupations claimed such men, and the 
schools suffered until instruction was assumed by 


At the time of the erection of the diocese in 
1857, members of two religious orders were already 
established in Fort Wayne. On Cathedral Square the 
Brothers of Holy Cross conducted a school for boys, 
and the Sisters of Providence taught classes of girls. 

Through the efforts of Bishop Luers, the Poor 
Handmaids of Jesus Christ came from Germany to the 
diocese of Fort Wayne in 1863 and were first assigned 
to the parish of Hesse Cassel, a few miles from Fort 
Wayne. In 1869 eight members of the order opened a 


hospital and established their mother-house in the 
former Rockhill House at the southwest corner of West 
Main Street and Broadway. The inn had recently been 
purchased by the St. Joseph's Hospital Association. 
The Sisters successfully operated the hospital and 
later established a nurses' training school. In time 
they established additional hospitals and orphanages 
and conducted many schools in the diocese. 

That Bishop Luers recognized and assumed that 
responsibility is evident from the following excerpts 
from his pastoral letter in August, 1866. 

Dearly Beloved in Christ: 

The number of orphans in our diocese has of 
late increased to such an extent that the erection of an 
asylum for them has become an imperative necessity. 

A year ago I purchased twenty-five acres of 
land, adjoining this city, for the purpose of building 
such an asylum; but, as yet, it has not been com- 
menced. On this all-important matter I consultedwith 
the clergy; the building to be erected would cost from 
thirty thousand to thirty-five thousand dollars. To 
obtain this seems a matter of impossibility. 

It was, therefore, unanimously agreed to ac- 
cept the favorable offer of the Spitler farm at Rensse- 
laer for eighteen thousand dollars. This place con- 
tains nine hundred thirty-three acres; six hundred fifty 
are under fence, two hundred under cultivation, one 
hundred wood, and the balance prairie. There are on 
it two dwelling houses; one contains twelve rooms, 
affording accommodation for forty or fifty orphans. 
The farm has a barn, stables, excellent water, gar- 
dens, fruit trees, shrubbery, stone for building, etc. 
It is half a mile from Rensselaer. It is of easy ac- 
cess, and in a few hours it can be reached from all 
parts of the diocese. 


We need an asylum without delay, the more so 
on account of the cholera, of which we find approach- 
ing signs everywhere. Therefore, compelled by the 
necessity of the times, the asylum must be opened as 
soon as possible. 

Into the asylum, all orphans will be admitted 
without distinction of creed as much as circumstances 
will permit; the pastors or collectors can therefore 
also call without hesitation upon all for aid. 

I expect that every Catholic, however limited 
his means may be, will contribute at least five dollars 
and those in better circumstances more. 

Given at Fort Wayne on the Feast of the As- 
sumption of the Blessed Virgin, A. D. 1866. 

John Henry Luers 
Bishop of Fort Wayne. ^'* 

Having purchased the Spitler farm, Bishop 
Luers appointed priests to collect funds throughout 
the diocese and to prepare the residences for occu- 
pancy. Reverend Joseph Stephan was appointed to head 
the institution. In September, 1866, thirty-five chil- 
dren entered the orphanage to be cared for by the 
Sisters of Holy Cross. Several years later Father 
Kroeger erected a two -story building, where St. Jo- 
seph*s College now stands. 

Bishop Luers also proposed and established a 
plan for the support of aged and infirm ed priests, un- 
der the title of the Catholic Clerical Benevolent Asso- 

Representatives of thirty-five German- speak- 



Reverend Edward Koenig 

St. Paul's Church 
Fort Wayne, Indiana 

ing Catholic families in the western part of Fort Wayne 
met to plan the organization of a new parish on No- 
vember 15, 1863. With the permission of Bishop 
Luers, they purchased property on February 2, 1865, 
fronting on Fairfield Avenue at the northeast corner 
of Washington Boulevard. George W. Ewing sold the 
building site for thirty-five hundred dollars. Install- 
ment payments over a ten-year period extinguished 
the debt. 

A frame church seventy-five feet long by thir- 
ty-seven feet wide was erected at a cost of thirty- 
seven hundred dollars. Funds were secured through 
the collection of pew rent from the new parishioners 
before the church was constructed. Bishop Luers 
dedicated the church on October 1, 1865, and appoint- 
ed Reverend Edward Koenig as the first pastor. He 
also fixed the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul as 
the patron feast of the church. Father Koenig at once 
organized a School Society and an Altar Society. Two 
additional lots were acquired on January 28, 1866, for 
five thousand dollars and another lot in July, 1866, 
for fourteen hundred dollars. 

On January 19, 1866, the school opened with 
sixty-eight children in attendance. Louis Weiser was 
the first teacher. Mettler succeeded Louis Weiser as 
teacher. In 1867 the boys and girls were first taught 
in separate schoolrooms. Clementine Koenig taught 
the girls. In 1868 a new brick school was built. 


On June 29, 1871, Bishop Luers gave minor 
orders to three seminarians and conferred a deacon- 
ship on another in Cleveland. On his way to the rail- 
way station he suffered a stroke, received the last 


Right Reverend Joseph Dwenger, D.D. 
Second Bishop of Fort Wayne 

sacraments, and died within twenty minutes. Clergy- 
men and laymen from both dioceses escorted his body 
from Cleveland to Fort Wayne. The funeral was held 
on July 4, 1871, in the Cathedral; Archbishop Purcell 
presided and preached the sermon. The body was 
placed in the crypt under the sanctuary of the Cathe- 

Several months after the death of Bishop Luers, 
Pope Pius IX selected Father Joseph Dwenger as the 
second bishop of the diocese. On April 14, 1872, 
Archbishop Purcell consecrated Father Dwenger the 
bishop-elect in Cincinnati. The new prelate came to 
Fort Wayne immediately and assumed charge of the 

Bishop Dwenger was born in Mercer County, 
Ohio, on September 7, 1837, of German emigrant 
parents, Gerhard Henry and Maria Catherine (Wirdt) 
Dwenger. His father died when he was three years 
old, and his mother moved with her family to Cincin- 
nati where she remained until 1849. When Joseph was 
twelve, his mother died of cholera, entrusting him to 
Reverend Andrew Kinkier, a priest of the Community 
of the Most Precious Blood. Father Kinkier cared for 
him until he was able to enter the novitiate of the Pre- 
cious Blood order. 

Joseph was ordained to the priesthood by Arch- 
bishop Purcell on September 4, 1859, and for three 
years he served as rector and taught classes in the 
seminary of his congregation. After filling a pastor- 
ate at Wapokoneta for a few years, he served as a 
missionary in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. 

The founding and early history of St. Peter's 


Reverend John Wemhoff 

St. Peter's First Church and School 
Fort Wayne, Indiana 

Church was recounted in the FORT WAYNE JOURNAL- 
GAZETTE on the golden anniversary of the parish. 
The following history is excerpted from that news- 

On November 12, 1871, several members of 
St. Mary*s Church assembled in the enginehouse of 
the Seventh Ward (formerly called Frenchtown) for the 
purpose of discussing the establishment of a new con- 
gregation. After considerable deliberation, these men 
determined to plan a new parish at once and to seek 

At the first meeting the organizers unanimous- 
ly voted to name the new church St. Peter's and thus 
place it under the special protection of the Prince of 
Apostles. The secretary of the committee, who had 
shown special interest in the development of the new 
congregation, also bore that name. 

The founders were Peter J. Mettler, Frank 
Beckman, Tiberius Schmucker, John Klein, Sebastian 
Wiegand, Peter Miller, Valentine Hartman, Nicholas 
Gosser, Antony Walker, Peter Noll, John Graf, Chris- 
topher Goette, John Landgraf, Ferdinand Mueller, 
Conrad Tremmel, Andrew Weber, Peter Harnishpegar, 
Valentine Ofenloch, Frank Schram, and Bernard Roth. 

These men chose the first trustees --Conrad 
Tremmel, president, Peter J. Mettler, secretary, 
John Kintz, treasurer, Tiberius Schmucker, and Se- 
bastian Wiegand. 

A week following the organization of the con- 
gregation the following requested membership: Joseph 
Frankenr eider, J. Gronemaier, Charles Schnorberger, 
John Schmidt, George Jacoby, Henry Loos, M. Her- 
mann, Barbara Huebler, Adolph Koch, L. Spoenie, 
L. Brasler, Phil Keintz, John Kramer, A. Goerta, 
John Eising, John Tremmel, John Bopp, Methias Krae- 
meh, John Schramm, Theodore Tiegemann, John 
Ketcher, A.J. Klein, John Wessel, F. Fieulner, W. 


Newmann, and Eva Klein. Those applicants were 
succeeded by W. Neidhafer» John Bertals, Nicholas 
Alter, Nicholas Weil, Peter Zeigler, Edward Huebler, 
Herman Albers, George Schmidt, J. Eiter, and Cath- 
erine Huen. 

Right Reverend Joseph Dwenger appointed Rev- 
erend John Wemhoff the first pastor of St. Peter* s in 
1872. The young priest was born in Munster, Ger- 
many, October 11, 1837, came to America in 1858 
and resided with his uncle, Bernard Wemhoff. On 
March 22, 1862, he was ordained by Bishop Luers. 

As a site for the new parish, three lots in the 
La Salle addition were purchased for fourteen hundred 
dollars. To encourage the members of the new con- 
gregation one lot was donated by Father Wemhoff. 
Eight additional lots were eventually acquired and the 
site became known as St. Peter* s Square. The prop- 
erty measured one hundred fifty feet wide and four 
hundred fifty feet long; it was bounded on the north by 
St. Martin*s Street, on the east by Hanna Street, on 
the south by DeWald Street, and on the west by War- 
saw Street. 

The men of the parish came to the grounds 
after their daily work and gradually completed the 
excavating and the laying of the foundations. The 
cornerstone was laid in the spring of 1872, and the 
dedication took place on December 27 of the same 
year. Bishop Dwenger officiated. The brick building 
measuring seventy feet long and forty feet wide, was 
intended to serve the parish as both church and school. 
The first floor was divided into four large classrooms; 
the second floor served as a church with a seating 
capacity of three hundred. Building costs approxi- 
mated ten thousand dollars. 

Forty children enrolled in the new school. 
Three lay instructors, Messrs. Ross, Buehler, and 
Saenker, taught classes. In 1881 the School Sisters 


Reverend Anthony Messmann 

1 1 

f^ f/ 

. ^^ 

St. Peter's Church 
Fort Wayne, Indiana 

of Notre Dame assumed charge. In 1871 the family 
heads in the parish organized the St. Joseph School 
Society, which supported the school. 

Lawrence Becker and Miss Dierkes were the 
first couple to be united in marriage in the new church 
in November, 1872. Eva Klein was the first infant to 
be baptized in December, 1872. The congregation 
then numbered forty-four families comprising two 
hundred persons. A small frame building was built in 
1872, to serve as the pastor's residence. In 1880, 
Father Anthony Messman, who had succeeded Father 
Wemhoff as pastor, built a two-story brick convent 
for the nuns. 

During the pastorate of Father Messman the 
present Gothic structure was erected. The church 
measures one hundred ninety by eighty feet and is 
surmounted by a steeple two hundred feet in height. 
Peter Diedrich of Detroit was the architect, and John 
Suelzer of Fort Wayne was the general contractor in 
charge of construction. The new building cost sixty- 
five thousand dollars. Notable ceremonies marked 
the dedication of the new church on November 4, 1894. 


Bishop Dwenger*s motto was "Catholic schools 
for Catholic children. " He urged each pastor to pro- 
vide an elementary school in each parish. If a sepa- 
rate building for a church and another for a school 
proved impossible, he urged that a two-story struc- 
ture be erected with quarters for both church and 
school. He said, "No schools now means empty 
churches later, " and exerted every effort to develop 
an efficient parochial school system. Even small 
parishes of thirty or forty families built their own 


elementary schools. 

As early as 1879 he created a Diocesan School 
Board and appointed Fathers Julian Benoit, Michael 
O'Reilly, W. Corby, Edward Koenig, Joseph Rade- 
macher, Henry Meissner, and John Oechtering. Bish- 
op Dwenger recommended that a survey be made of 
existing schools and that an annual report be submit- 
ted showing accomplishments and progress. He di- 
rected that school expenses be defrayed by the whole 
congregation in each parish. He advocated the estab- 
lishment of boys' high schools in large cities through 
the common effort of several parishes. He instituted 
examinations for secular teachers. He directed the 
Board to consider the relative merits of textbooks and 
to develop a more uniform curriculum. The Board 
implemented and effected the Bishop's policies. 

In 1882 the Board created six school districts 
and appointed priests to inspect the schools, make 
written reports of their visits, and conduct examina- 
tions. The Board also considered the quantity of 
homework and school punishments. 

The Bishop induced the Precious Blood Fathers 
to establish an institution of higher learning near 
Rensselaer in 1891. The school was later known as 
St. Joseph's College. 

During his administration, a third Catholic 
cemetery was opened on a large tract of land on East 
Lake Avenue. Bishop Dwenger conducted the first of- 
ficial pilgrimage from the United States to Lourdes, 
and visited Rome for the first time in 1874. He jour- 
neyed to the Eternal City three times in the I880's. 
The Bishop called a Synod which met at Notre Dame 
in October, 1874. Ten years later he convened a sec- 
ond synod. 

Bishop Dwenger purchased fifty acres of land 
near Lafayette and erected a four-story brick home 
for orphan boys. This $30,000 home was known as 


St. Joseph's Asylum and Manual Labor School. Bishop 
Dwenger also erected the first Catholic orphans honne 
in Fort Wayne on the twenty-five acre tract of land 
purchased by his predecessor, Bishop Luers. The 
building, named St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum, was 
built in 1886 and 1887. The Poor Handmaids of Jesus 
Christ had charge of the girls in this institution. 


On January 13, 1886, the boiler beneath St. 
Mary's Church exploded from some unknown cause. 
Rescue workers found the janitor fatally injured under 
a mass of fallen timbers; a little girl, passing the 
church, was killed by a door blown from its hinges. 
The force of the explosion was felt over a wide area. 
The church was completely wrecked, and the remain- 
ing walls had to be razed. The explosion also seri- 
ously damaged the rectory. 

Shortly after the disaster. Father John Oech- 
tering, who had been appointed pastor in 1880, began 
to plan for a new and larger church. The trustees, 
Michael Baltes, Andrew Kalbacher, Henry Manning, 
Louis Schirmeyer, Henry Beuter, and Joseph Kuttner 
conferred with Father Oechtering and decided to erect 
a new edifice costing $50,000. Since the old rectory 
had to be moved to make room for the larger church, 
the parish purchased adjoining ground for a new pas- 
tor's home. 

Father Oechtering appointed a Building Com- 
mittee composed of the above-named trustees and 
prominent parishioners- -Henry Berghoff, Mathias App, 
Nicholas Herbertus, and Henry Schane. Samuel M. 
Lane, a Cleveland architect, submitted plans which 


The Ruins of St. Mary's Church 
Fort Wayne, Indiana 

the Committee adopted. The contract for excavating 
was let to Joe Derheimer, and the contract for laying 
the foundation was awarded to Barney Mittendorf . 

Work began in earnest on the new edifice, and 
on July 11, 1886, just less than six months following 
the explosion. Bishop Dwenger laid the cornerstone 
with appropriate ceremonies. During the succeeding 
months the tall outlines of a Gothic structure grew on 
the southeast corner of Lafayette and Jefferson streets. 
The exterior of the building was of red brick with 
stone trim, and the roof was of slate. Four steeples 
graced the new church; the principal one rose two 
hundred thirty-eight feet, twenty-three feet higher 
than the Cathedral spires. The two side steeples were 
one hundred twenty-eight feet in height. The extreme 
outside length from the steeple to the rear measured 
one hundred ninety-five feet, and the width totaled 
sixty-eight feet. 

Thirty-two stained glass windows, donated by 
church societies and individuals, lighted the interior 
of the church. They were made by the house of O. F. 
McMohon of New York and were installed by Charles 
Lett. Mr. A. Kinkeling of New York painted the Bib- 
lical figures and scenes on the ceiling and walls, and 
the frescoes were done by Messrs. Muer and Gruen- 
hick. A new organ was installed at a cost of $5, 000. 
The seating capacity of the church, exclusive of the 
galleries, was nine hundred fifty. The total cost of 
the completed church approximated $100, 000. 

The church was dedicated by the Right Rever- 
end Joseph Dwenger on the third Sunday of Advent, 
1887. The Right Reverend Rademacher, Bishop of 
Nashville, sang Pontifical Mass and was attended by a 
large number of priests on the occasion. 


Right Reverend John H. Oechtering, V.G 

The Present St. Mary's Church 
Fort Wayne, Indiana 


Father Oechtering was born December 23, 
1845, in Lingen, Germany, a son of Clement and Mary 
(Grotemeier) Oechtering. He attended the schools of 
his native city until twelve years of age, after which 
he spent one year at the Gymnasium. In 1858, he en- 
tered college in Munster and remained seven years 
and then spent two years at the University in the same 
city. In 1867, he enrolled in the American college of 
Louvain, Belgium, as a candidate for the priesthood. 
He was ordained for the diocese of Fort Wayne by the 
coadjutor Archbishop of Malines, May 21, 1869. 

Father Oechtering came to America the same 
year and was assigned to St. Vincent Church in Elk- 
hart, residing, however, with his uncle Reverend A. 
B. Oechtering in Mishawaka. After a year he was 
transferred to St. Joseph's Church at La Porte, where 
he remained ten years. On July 14, 1880, he was ap- 
pointed pastor of St. Mary*s Church in Fort Wayne. 
In 1888 he was named immovable rector of that church 
by Bishop Dwenger. During his long pastorate in Fort 
Wayne, Father Oechtering served as Vicar-General, 
Judge of the Matrimonial Court, Moderator of the Fort 
Wayne Deanery, and President of the School Board. 
His writings include treatises on capitol, labor, and 
socialism, a number of dramas, and a Catechism of 
Church History for upper Catholic grade school stu- 
dents. In 1905, he was named Domestic Prelate by 
Pius X. He died in Riesenbeck, Germany, on January 
10, 1941, at the age of ninety-six. 

The opening of a two-room schoolhouse in the 


old Bond Building in 1886 may be considered the be- 
ginning of St. Patrick's Parish. The school was es- 
tablished for children who could not attend the Cathe- 
dral School on account of the distance. Three years 
later Bishop Dwenger purchased four lots on Fairfield 
Avenue, from Peter Owens, whose house was convert- 
ed into a school of four rooms. In October, 1889, the 
Bishop formed the new congregation of St. Patrick's 
and appointed Reverend Thomas M. O'Leary as the 
first pastor. 

Father O'Leary began at once to negotiate for 
the purchase of a church site on DeWald Street be- 
tween Harrison and Webster streets, but he died on 
October 24, 1889, three weeks after his appointment. 
Shortly thereafter Bishop Dwenger donated the prop- 
erty on Fairfield Avenue to the new congregation and 
appointed the Reverend Joseph F. Delaney pastor. 

The new pastor completed the real estate ne- 
gotiations for the half square fronting on DeWald 
Street. In April, 1890, ground was broken for the 
new church, and the cornerstone was laid on May 20 
by Bishop Dwenger. This was the last public appear- 
ance of the bishop, whose health had begun to fail. 
The Vicar-General, Very Reverend Joseph H. Bram- 
mer, dedicated the church on November 22, 1891. 
Gothic in architecture, the church measured one hun- 
dred sixty-seven feet in length with a frontage of 
ninety-four feet. The spire rose to a height of one 
hundred eighty-five feet. The seating capacity ap- 
proximated eight hundred. The total cost, including 
furnishings, was $59, 000. 

The nine-room school, with an assembly hall, 
was built in 1891. The building, eighty-five by sev- 
enty-two feet, accommodated more than five hundred 
pupils. The cost was $14, 500. The Sisters of Provi- 
dence taught eight grades in the parochial school. In 
1901 Father Delaney erected St. Catherine's Academy, 


Reverend Joseph F . Delaney 

St. Patrick's Church 
Fort Wayne, Indiana 

wherein secondary academic and commercial subjects 
were taught. The original parochial residence was 
built in 1891. 


Reverend Joseph F. Delaney was born in 
Thompsonville, Connecticut, January 15, 1860. He 
was one of six children born to Conerty Delaney, who 
had emigrated to the United States from Ireland. 

Joseph attended the parochial schools of his 
native city and then entered the Seminary of Our Lady 
of Angels at Suspension Bridge, New York, from which 
he graduated at the age of twenty-four. He completed 
his theological course at St. Vincent's College, La- 
trobe, Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1887 and was 
ordained at the Cathedral in Fort Wayne on June 29, 
1887, by Bishop Dwenger. On August 15, 1887, he 
was named assistant at the Cathedral. Bishop Dwenger 
sent him to the new parish of St. Patrick's to succeed 
Father O'Leary. 


After a lingering illness of nearly three years, 
Bishop Dwenger succumbed to a heart attack on Janu- 
ary 23, 1893. The funeral obsequies took place on 
January 26 and were attended by members of the hier- 
archy and many clergy. The Archbishop Elder of 
Cincinnati celebrated the Pontifical Requiem Mass, 
and Bishop Rademacher delivered the funeral oration. 
The remains of this second bishop were interred in 


Right Reverend Joseph Rademacher, D.D. 
Third Bishop of Fort Wayne 

the crypt of the Cathedral. 

Pope Leo XIII, by letters dated July 14, 1893, 
appointed Joseph Rademacher third bishop of the dio- 
cese of Fort Wayne and transferred him from the See 
of Nashville. Of the first four Fort Wayne bishops, 
he was the first native American; his predecessors 
were German. 

Born in Westphalia, Michigan, December 3, 
1840, he studied the classics and philosophy at St. 
Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and later 
theology in St. Michael's Seminary in Pittsburgh. 
Bishop Luers accepted him for the diocese of Fort 
Wayne and ordained him a priest on August 2, 1863. 

He became the first resident pastor of Attica 
with Covington as a mission. In 1870, he was appoint- 
ed pastor of St. Paul of the Cross in Columbia City. 
Two years later he accepted the pastorate of St. 
Mary's Church in Fort Wayne where he served seven 
years. In 1880 he was appointed pastor of St. Mary's 
Church, Lafayette. And three years later was named 
bishop of the See of Nashville, where he was conse- 
crated on June 24, 1883. 

Bishop Rademacher arrived in Fort Wayne on 
October 3, 1893, and was officially welcomed by the 
Very Reverend Joseph Brammer, vicar-general of the 
diocese in the presence of a large throng gathered in 
front of the Cathedral. A reception took place on the 
evening of October 4 and the solemn installation and 
Pontifical Mass on October 5. After Reverend J. H. 
Hueser read the Bulls of Pope Leo XIII, Archbishop 
Elder of Cincinnati escorted Bishop Rademacher to 
the throne. Each priest of the diocese knelt before 
the Bishop, and kissed his ring in token of submission. 

Bishop Rademacher's five-year episcopate in 
Fort Wayne was characterized by improvements of 
diocesan and parishional works. In January, 1899, the 
bishop suffered a breakdown which incapacitated him 


for a year. He died on January 12, 1900, and was 
buried in the crypt of the Cathedral. 


The foregoing sketch of the modest beginnings 
and difficult undertakings of the early Catholic clergy 
and laity in this region constitutes a record of faith 
and courage of the past. The humanitarian, cultural, 
and social contributions of the Church to the commu- 
nity are self-evident. Professional, business, indus- 
trial, and financial fields reflect the influence of pio- 
neer Catholic families upon the community's economic 



VI, p. 549. 

2. Op. cit., VoL IX, p. 755. 

3. H. J. Alerding, THE DIOCESE OF FORT 
WAYNE, Fort Wayne, Indiana (Archer Printing Com- 
pany, 1907), p. 17. 

4. Ibid. , p. 17. 

5. Ibid. , p. 18. 

WAYNE (n. p.: 1941), p. 33. 

7. R. S. Robertson, HISTORY OF THE UP- 
PER MAUMEE VALLEY (Madison, Wisconsin: Brant 
and Fuller, 1889), Vol. II, p. 412. 

8. Ibid. , p. 413. 

9. Ibid. 

10. Alerding, op. cit. , pp. 24-26. 

11. Noll, op._cit_., p. 31. 

12. Ibid. , p. 101. 

vember 27, 1960. 

14. Noll, op. cit., pp. 81-88. 



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